Gout and kidney disease

Image about gout damage
Medically reviewed by
AKF's Medical Advisory Committee
Last updated
May 7, 2024

Kidney disease is a common cause of gout. However, gout can also lead to kidney disease. Since uric acid is filtered through the kidneys, the two diseases are related.

One out of 10 people with chronic kidney disease have gout, and an even higher percentage of people with gout have kidney disease. Many people with kidney disease have uncontrolled gout, which can make kidney disease worse and lead to other complications.

Kidney disease can lead to gout

When you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), your kidneys do not work as well as they should to filter wastes out of your body. These wastes include uric acid, which is naturally found in your blood. When you have kidney disease, your kidneys cannot filter out uric acid as well as they should. Too much uric acid building up in the body is the cause of gout.

Most people with early stage kidney disease do not know they have it. Gout can be a warning sign of kidney disease. If you have gout, ask your doctor if you should be tested for kidney disease.

Gout can lead to kidney disease

There is evidence that gout can lead to kidney disease. This connection is less established, but the belief that gout leads to kidney disease is common among many doctors who specialize in the disease.

When you have gout, you have too much uric acid in your blood. As your blood is filtered through your kidneys, uric acid can build up and form urate crystals. As the urate crystals pass through your kidneys, they can cause damage and scars. This kidney damage is thought to lead to kidney disease and failure over time, especially if your gout is left untreated.

NSAIDs, some of the most common pain relieving medicines for gout, can also lead to kidney disease over time. Talk to your doctor about how to manage your use of NSAIDs.

Living with gout and kidney disease

When you have both gout and kidney disease, treating gout can be difficult because some medicines (such as NSAIDs) are not safe for the kidneys. Some of the most common medicines for acute and chronic gout should be adjusted or avoided when you have kidney disease. Learn more about the medicines for gout here. 

Additionally, some people with kidney disease take medicines that may increase their risk of gout. For example, diuretics (water pills) and beta blockers, two common medicines for high blood pressure, can contribute to gout attacks. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take so they can suggest a treatment that works best for you.

If you have both gout and kidney disease, there are certain things you can do to keep both conditions under control and improve your general health.

  • Keep a healthy blood pressure.
  • Keep a healthy blood sugar level.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Follow an eating plan low in purines, alcohol, and foods with high-fructose corn syrup and high sugar content.
  • Eat a healthy eating plan rich with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you have particular food limitations or restrictions because of kidney disease, talk to your doctor or dietitian about addressing gout through nutritional choices.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week to stay physically fit.